Origami in Metal
Detailing Special Hobby Fairey Barracuda 1/48 kit
In the modelling world, Fairey Barracuda used to be one of those always-neglected aircraft. This is perhaps just like the real Barracuda was overshadowed by other marine aircraft during the years of WWII until the end of its service in the early 50s.
The model captured my attention following the detailed work of Allan Yee on a 1/72 Frog sample. The unique wing fold mechanism adds a lot of character to an otherwise rather dull looking aircraft. The opportunity to tackle the intricate work of scratchbuilding a folded wing came when I got an occasion to purchase Special Hobby's 1/48 Barracuda II at a very low price.
Photographs of the sprues of this kit that appeared in previews on the Internet had stalled my enthusiasm for Special Hobby's effort. I had a hunch that I should take the praising with a pinch of salt. Indeed, the quality of mouldings was poor and surface detail had much to be improved.
Worse than that, the fit of some parts, like fuselage halves with sub-assemblies installed was appalling and I had to spend a considerable amount of time to correct the manufacturer's mistakes. On the plus side, the resin parts were a nice addition, especially the fine casting of the exhaust stubs.
The major and fun part of the construction involved the wing fold mechanism. There, the soft plastic used in the kit helped considerably in the cutting and the shaping of the different components. Allan provided me with the technical drawings. Without them I could not accomplish this work.
Wing folding surfaces were detailed with sheet styrene as shown
Having seen my assembled model, Allan also indicated that the wing incidence appeared drooping. Since I attached the wings to the fuselage with hinges, the weight of the thick plastic caused the front to drop, thereby loosing the characteristic grasshopper look of the wing assembly. Once spotted, this fault was fixed in no time.
Painting is something that I cannot elaborate upon because I freely mixed and matched various brands and types of paint. I found a 30-years old Flight colour photograph by Charles Brown of what seems to be a pre-production Barracuda. It actually resided underneath a Perspex cover on my childhood desk top (no computers then). The time and all the paint thinners and water spilled over it did not significantly alter the hues of the characteristic FAA camouflage scheme.
The kit decals were a final pleasant surprise, they went on like a dream. All's well that ends well! However, this is the best compliment I could muster for a $40-plus retail price tag.